A day after an ad accusing Bennet of joining a “spending spree” started airing in Denver and Colorado Springs, Bennet’s camp argued in a 27-page response that the money was mostly to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Buck insists the war funding is just one piece of the deficit, an argument Colorado voters are likely to see rehashed through November since voters say the economy is their top concern.
The anti-Bennet ad comes from a conservative advocacy group affiliated with former Republican White House aides Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. The group spent $425,000 on the ad that says Bennet signed off on “billions in government pork” and joined two votes to raise the federal debt ceiling.
Bennet argued that the debt votes were necessary to keep government functioning, and pointed out that one of the votes described in the bill – a $106 billion measure in June 2009 – was largely a measure to pay for the wars.
Bennet’s spokesman, Trevor Kincaid, called the conservative ad misleading.
“To take votes that are essential … and saying that it’s a cavalier, unnecessary expenditure is disingenuous,” Kincaid said Wednesday, adding that the ad was “attacking Michael for providing our troops with the resources they need to complete their mission.”
A spokesman for the group that funded the ad, Crossroads GPS, said Bennet should expect more of the same attacks through election day.
“Colorado is one of our key races, and Michael Bennet has shown no responsibility on fiscal issues,” said Jonathan Collegio.
Buck’s spokesman, Owen Loftus, said the spending criticism against Bennet is fair. Loftus pointed out Bennet’s vote for last year’s Cash for Clunkers program to stimulate automobile sales.
“This is a lot more than just funding the troops,” Loftus said. “This is a much bigger issue that Bennet has not answered, his addiction to spending.”
Bennet’s campaign defended the Cash for Clunkers vote, citing a Denver Post report last year in which Colorado car dealers called the stimulus “wildly successful.”
The contest could hinge on whether voters agree with the incumbent that his spending votes were necessary. Certainly the debate over public spending isn’t going anywhere.
A nationwide Associated Press-GfK poll reported Wednesday showed the public has a dim view of the economy, always a sign of trouble for incumbents.
A whopping 81 percent of people called the economy poor or very poor, up from 72 percent in June. Just 12 percent said the economy has improved in the past month, compared with 19 percent in June. Both were record measurements since AP-GfK started asking those questions.
The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.